SAG Awards 2012: Jean Dujardin admits to feeling ‘big pressure’
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With his breakout performance in “The Artist,” French actor Jean Dujardin has vaulted from obscurity stateside to Hollywood stardom and done it while scarcely saying a word.
At the SAG Awards at the Shrine Exposition Hall on Sunday, Dujardin’s turn as the silent-era movie star George Valentin beat out such A-list leading men as George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role.
Looking every bit the old-school movie star backstage in his tux, a glowing Dujardin was a bit more talkative than his onscreen persona, and it took only a few lines of his heavily accented English to charm the press room.
Asked by a reporter if he was surprised by the film’s success, Dujardin downplayed his contributions. “It’s not my fault,” he said, flashing a smile and prompting peals of laughter. “I’m just an actor. I think the star of the movie is the movie and the project and the …”
He trailed off, clearly struggling for the right words.
“Boring!” he said, slapping himself on both cheeks. “Wakey, wakey, Jean!”
The crowd laughed and he continued.
He went on to thank director Michel Hazanavicius, whom he nicknamed “Hazava-genius.”
Dujardin tried to explain the film’s appeal, calling it a feel-good movie, a love story and “a new visual and emotional experience for the audience.” He added, “And there’s a dog, and it’s a cute dog.”
When asked how he felt about his chances of winning an Academy Award for his performance — he would be the first Frenchman to win best lead actor — he answered by singing a few bars of “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem. After the applause died down, he admitted to feeling “pressure, big pressure. It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing already. It’s too early to tell.”
“Take a drink with me after,” he added in a conspiratorial whisper.
Dujardin was also asked what he thought of his future acting in America. After protesting that his English needs work and joking that he might try making another silent movie in the U.S., he said, “I have another shooting in April in France, and after I don’t know. But like George Valentin says, ‘With pleasure.’ ”
— Oliver Gettell and Jessica Gelt